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Dr Adam Swayne

Senior Lecturer/Classical Piano Tutor

‘A pianist of formidable technique and high intelligence’ (Times)
‘An ideal blend of panache and subtlety’. (Evening Standard)

Adam Swayne is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Chichester and teaches piano at the Royal Academy of Music.

Adam works with a vast range of musical media and styles that go beyond conventional labelling. He is just as at home giving a solo piano recital or conducting an orchestra as he is organising musical installations in art galleries or composing for amateur ensembles. He takes an inclusive, informative and innovative approach to his music making that is drawing an increasingly large audience.

Adam is a graduate of the joint course between Manchester University and the RNCM. He gained first class degrees from both institutions, and an MMus from the RNCM. Manchester University gave Adam their highest award (Sir Thomas Beecham Medal) along with other prizes including the Recital Prize. Prizes from the RNCM included the John Ireland Prize and an award for performances of contemporary music.

In 2003 Adam was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to begin doctoral studies at Northwestern University, USA. He graduated in 2006 with distinction, having presented several U.S. premières of works by British composers.


Adam has performed at many major venues in London (Purcell Room, St James’ Piccadilly and St Martin In-The-Fields), Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, at Festivals including Soundwaves Festival (Brighton) and live on BBC Radio 3 at the BBC Proms (Composer Portrait 2004). He has performed concertos in Europe and America and has recorded for the UHR and NMB labels.

He has given countless premières and has commissioned works from Gareth Parry, Kevin Malone and Ailis Ni Riain, attracting funding from Arts Council England through the National Lottery. Collaborations with other composers include Harrison Birtwistle, John Adams, Graham Fitkin, John Casken, John Corigliano, Geoffrey Poole and Gary Carpenter. He has given duo and multi-piano performances with Jonathan Plowright, Terence Allbright, Susan Legg and gave the UK première of Steve Reich’s Harpsichord Phase with Jane Chapman. He frequently directs from the piano in classical concertos as well as contemporary repertoire, and formerly directed the Chicago multi-piano ensemble 88X from the keyboard. He was a Park Lane Group Young Artist 2008.


Adam's works challenge modernist preconceptions of high art and kitsch and, in a bewildering mixture, draw upon dance forms, indeterminacy, extended instrumental techniques, humour and political satire.

Commissions include:

  • St Catharine's College Cambridge (Many Dark Actor Playing Games),
  • RNCM (Office Party),
  • Portsmouth Grammar School (Santa Dances),
  • Leading UK architect John Wheatley (Gridshell),
  • Project Keyboard: EXCEL (Football Crazy),
  • Ebony Duo (Tarantella) attracting funds from the Scottish Arts Council and the Hope Scott Trust.

His work for Manchester University Wind Orchestra (Go Down Hoe Down) was featured at the International Wind Festival in Glasgow in 2007. Adam's piece for trumpet and piano, Lezghinka, was performed at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff at the Brass Final of BBC Young Musician of the Year 2010, broadcast on BBC Television. The performer was Sam Moffitt, who also commissioned the work. In 2011 Adam wrote an innovative Beatbox Concerto in collaboration with Crawley-based beatboxer Krystal Gob using a unique notational system. The concerto has been performed twice by CoMA Sussex and students from the University of Chichester (some of whom provided electronic parts).


Adam is Music Director for CoMA Sussex, Lancing Concert Band and the University's Contemporary Music Group. He was formerly Music Director for the Symphonic Wind Orchestra at Southampton University.

He has appeared in venues throughout the UK, recently sharing a platform with composer Stephen Montague at the 2009 Arundel Town Festival in his Dark Sun. In 2010 he directed CoMA Sussex in a performance of Andriessen’s ‘Workers Union’ at Brighton’s Concorde 2 in a Music and Freedom event attended by Caroline Lucas MP.

In April 2012 he organised and directed major events commemorating the centenary of Titanic’s sinking, including the combined forces of CoMA, UCMA and Southampton Concert Orchestra in Gavin Bryars’ ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’ in Southampton Guildhall (on the exact anniversary of the tragedy), and over 170 performers drawn from all over West Sussex in David Bedford’s ‘The Wreck of the Titanic’.

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